Measuring transparency

James R. Hollyer, B. Peter Rosendorff, James Raymond Vreeland

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Abstract

    Transparency is often viewed as crucial to government accountability, but its measurement remains elusive. This concept encompasses many dimensions, which have distinct effects. In this article, we focus on a specific dimension of transparency: governments' collection and dissemination of aggregate data. We construct a measure of this aspect of transparency, using an item response model that treats transparency as a latent predictor of the reporting of data to the World Bank's World Development Indicators. The resultant index covers 125 countries from 1980 to 2010. Unlike some alternatives (e.g., Freedom House), our measure-the HRV index-is based on objective criteria rather than subjective expert judgments. Unlike newspaper circulation numbers, HRV reflects the dissemination of credible content-in that it has survived the World Bank's quality control assessment. In a validation exercise, we find that our measure outperforms newspaper circulation as a predictor of Law and Order and Bureaucratic Quality as measured by the ICRG, particularly in autocracies. It performs as well as newspaper circulation in predicting corruption. These findings suggest that data dissemination is a distinct, and politically relevant, form of transparency.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)413-434
    Number of pages22
    JournalPolitical Analysis
    Volume22
    Issue number4
    DOIs
    StatePublished - 2014

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Sociology and Political Science
    • Political Science and International Relations

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  • Cite this

    Hollyer, J. R., Peter Rosendorff, B., & Vreeland, J. R. (2014). Measuring transparency. Political Analysis, 22(4), 413-434. https://doi.org/10.1093/pan/mpu001